Sorry, I just couldn't wait to post this chapter. So, here we are, Chapter One of Worldly Prisoners.
Disclaimer: If I were JKR or the creator of Final Fantasy, I'd be lazing around the house all day, on my computer playing video games. Since I can't do that without consequences I am evidently not JKR, and thus do not have ownership of Harry Potter or Final Fantasy.
Chapter One: Escapes
Privet Drive. A completely normal place, and like any normal place, it had its entirely normal unofficial community competitions. Here, there was a competition among all the housewives of the community: they strived to have the most perfect garden.
Unfortunately, this year threatened even the most dedicated housewife. This summer was much hotter than usual. In fact, the temperatures taken so far were new records for this area of Britain. It was so hot that even in the early morning one could easily see the haze of heat rising from the streets and the sidewalk. Suffice to say, no one was truly willing to go out in that heat and give themselves heat stroke by working on their gardens, and no one was about to hire someone else to tend them.
Petunia Dursley of Number Four Privet Drive, on the other hand, had the perfect solution: send Harry Potter out into the heat to do the work for her. Doing so would ensure that she would win this year's garden competition, and undoubtedly make him miserable as well. Life couldn't be better, in her opinion.
So, looking outside early on one Saturday morning, the twelve-year-old with long raven-colored hair could be seen weeding the garden. Said boy was contemplating his situation and comparing it with one of his past experiences.
Which place is hotter? Here, or the Desert Prison on Terra?
Obviously, the boy was insane, if he was thinking of other worlds as if he'd been there. But that was not the case, as Harry James Potter actually had, at the age of five, been magically transported to another dimension. He had spent nine years there, becoming a mercenary of Balamb, known as SeeD. Having traveled the world, he eventually found a way back to his home dimension and found that only six years had passed, making him just in time to attend Hogwarts.
Oh yes, Harry Potter was not only an inter-dimensional traveler and SeeD, he was a wizard as well. Not just any wizard, but the Boy-Who-Lived, the only one known to have ever survived the infamous unstoppable Killing Curse. Not only that, but he had reflected it back upon the caster, the Dark Lord Voldemort, thereby ending his reign of terror.
Harry had gone through two of his seven years of education so far, but they were anything but uneventful. In his first year, he'd saved the Sorcerer's Stone, an immensely magical item that granted immortality and all the riches one could ever want, from the spirit of Voldemort. This was despite being Memory Charmed on his very first day at Hogwarts to forget his entire time on Terra. Thankfully, that was broken on Christmas night.
And the year after, he'd found the legendary Chamber of Secrets, made an ally out of the Basilisk there, and destroyed Voldemort's old diary, which had been possessing Ginny Weasley. On top of that, he'd also gained the Mark of Hydra, which gave him superiority over all Parselmouths. Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts, had discovered that Harry was no longer under the influence of the Memory Charm, and tried again, and then sealed away seventy percent of Harry's magic.
Harry, however, was his own man, and with his friends was subtly working against the wily Headmaster while training themselves in the ways of SeeD and in wizardry (or witchcraft for the females of the group). They fully planned to take Dumbledore down, but that was not possible just yet; he was too powerful, politically and magically.
Back at the present, however, Harry's question was about to be answered. :Difficult to say. Even the weeds are wilting, though, which means that this is definitely desert-level heat,: Quetzalcoatl, the Guardian Force of Lightning living in Harry's head, answered.
Harry wiped the sweat from his brow. Damn, it's hot. I really wish junctioning Firaga to my elemental defense would allow me to absorb the heat.
:It's not magical, so it wouldn't do anything.:
I know, I know, but this is just ridiculous! I could cast a Blizzard spell on myself and it'd melt in seconds! Harry worked in silence for the next several minutes, with the occasional grunt and muttering. I'm probably going to lose fifteen pounds' worth of water if I keep at this for the summer. How's the magical block coming?
:It's deteriorating at an accelerated pace.:
Harry nodded grimly, pulling out another dead-looking weed. Fine. Since he had returned to Privet Drive only a week ago, in late June, that meant Quetz would require three months to finish destroying the magical containment Dumbledore had placed on him.
After another half hour in the scorching sun, Harry was glad to hear Aunt Petunia call him inside. Thankfully, Harry's threat the previous year still held some sway with his relatives; in exchange for no chores – the gardening was the one exception – in exchange for the Dursleys' safety. The only reasons Harry accepted the gardening were because it was just one chore, and he wanted his bluff to go uncalled for as long as possible. Besides, Harry wasn't averse to getting a natural tan at the same time. Sure, he could use his Metamorph powers to show a tan, but Harry didn't want to go through the trial of slowly letting his skin fade back to a normal hue at Hogwarts.
Harry had fallen back into his old habit of pre-dawn runs, training at the gym, and reading various books, Muggle or Magical. Muggle-wise, Harry was studying history and science, just to see how Terra and Earth compared. Magic-wise, Harry had his sights on magical languages. Specifically, he wanted to learn Gobbledegook, the goblin language.
Harry didn't like the fact that the majority of goblins hated him for something he had no choice about, but he felt he might make some progress if he showed interest and respect for them by learning their language. He had gone two years without doing anything, but now, he had little else to do. The added side effect was that practicing Gobbledegook in his room when Vernon or Petunia were coming upstairs terrified them to the point to which it was funny; he was just speaking another language, not actively casting magic.
Unfortunately, the goblin language was very difficult to learn, but Harry was nothing if not dedicated and stubborn. He was determined to learn Gobbledegook.
However, to make sure that he wouldn't be gravely insulting the goblin race by learning their language, Harry sent a letter to Griphook. Griphook had replied that learning the language may very well help the rest of the goblins to get over his Terran upbringing, and sent along a few books on the subject.
In mid-July, Harry received a letter from Hogwarts, containing a permission form that would allow him to go to Hogsmeade on certain weekends out of the year. The only problem was, Harry needed one of his guardians to sign. "Potter! Get down here!" Vernon's voice rumbled.
"Coming!" Harry yelled back, carrying the paper with him as he went downstairs. "Yes, Uncle?"
"Marge is coming over for the next couple of weeks," Vernon said shortly. "She doesn't know anything about your freakishness, and if you know what's good for you, you'll keep it that way."
That was the plan, anyway, since I don't want to be expelled for doing magic. Harry nodded. "Anything else, sir?" Harry hated calling his hated uncle "sir" but it was necessary.
"She believes you're going to St. Brutus's Center for Incurably Criminal Boys."
Harry blinked. Twice. "I'm sorry, I think I misheard. Did I just hear you say that she believes I'm going to a school for delinquents?"
Vernon's eyes glittered maliciously. "No, Potter, you heard correctly."
Harry's eyebrow twitched. "What gave her that idea?"
"I did," Vernon growled.
Harry sighed. "Fine. She wouldn't believe the truth even if I told her. Anyway, I have something from school you need to sign." He held up the paper.
"What is it?" Vernon asked suspiciously.
"Just a permission form to go to Hogsmeade, the town by my school." Harry's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Trust me, you'll want to sign," he added in a cold voice.
"Or what?" Vernon sneered.
"Seth, kindly scare the fat oaf for me, would you?"
"Gladly." The snake that was magically transformed into a tattoo at the moment moved and erupted into 3D, poking its head out of Harry's shirt and hissing incessantly at a now-pale Vernon Dursley.
"Or I'll sick Seth on you," Harry answered Vernon. "He's very hungry, you know. Haven't had the chance to feed him today."
"I'll sign, I'll sign!" Vernon said, his tone frightened as he grabbed a pen and quickly signed the form.
"Thank you. If there is nothing further, I shall return to my room," Harry said in that same, cold voice before turning to go back upstairs. A sound in the living room, however, stopped him.
"… Sirius Black is armed and very dangerous," some guy was saying on the TV. "If you see him, please call the number on the screen immediately."
"What? Sirius Black?" Harry gasped.
Petunia, who had been watching, whirled on Harry. "That's what the Prime Minister said. Didn't even say what he was in prison for!"
"That's cuz he's a wizard," Harry said grimly. "A dangerous one. He killed thirteen people with a single curse the day after my parents died. From what I hear, they covered it up, called it a freak gas explosion." Harry clenched his fists. "He's also the one who sold out my parents to Voldemort. Hmph, so he's escaped from Azkaban, eh? Just gives me a chance to kill him."
:Harry, your peers and even the adults have said that no one has ever broken out of Azkaban before. If Sirius Black has, he is quite likely a very dangerous wizard that we should be wary of meeting. On top of that, it's best not to take any chances when you're handicapped.:
Right. But if I do see him, I won't run away unless I don't have a choice. A gunblade to the head will kill just as fast as a spell if not faster.
"A-A-Azkaban?" Petunia stuttered.
Harry looked at her sharply. Did she know something? "What do you know about Azkaban?" Harry used Legilimency to look into her mind. After the initial haziness, he saw a memory.
Petunia peeked through a doorway, spying on her sister. Lily was talking with a tall boy with black, unruly hair. "But what about Azkaban, the wizard prison?"
"I don't know, Lily," the boy answered. "Since the dementors have left and joined Voldemort, Azkaban is no longer the safest place to keep the Death Eaters. I hate dementors…"
Lily shivered. "I don't blame you, James. Those things are the worst, feasting on your happiness, making you feel like you'll never be happy again…"
Petunia shivered as well. What a horrible prospect, she thought to herself. Never be happy again? Those things are dangerous!
"Don't forget that since they've joined Voldemort now, they won't hesitate to suck out your soul," James warned. "That's why we've got to learn the spell to ward them off, the Patronus Charm. The incantation is Expecto Patronum. Ready? Let's do it!"
Harry blinked; watching that memory had taken but a second; Petunia was still opening her mouth to answer. "Filthy prison for your kind," Petunia spat. "I hope the guards catch that Black character."
"You would really wish for someone's soul to be sucked away by a dementor?" Harry asked incredulously.
"He's one of your kind, and he was part of a group that killed my parents!" Petunia said angrily, storming off.
She had, unwittingly, also answered one of Harry's questions. OK, so the dementors have returned to guarding Azkaban. But they'll probably be sent off to find Black. Harry clenched his fists. But not before I get him. I want to know why he betrayed them. Then, and only then, will I feed him to the dementors.
:You have also need to practice a new spell, the one you just observed in her memory. The Patronus Charm.:
Expecto Patronum, Harry recalled. I shall remember.
The next day, Harry was in the living room while his uncle went to pick up Marge. He took the opportunity to review the few memories he had of Marge, and frowned. If she was anything like how he remembered her, he'd have quite a test of endurance and self-restraint coming up soon. To delay the meeting with her for as long as possible, he went to the gym late and stayed longer than normal.
Finally, though, he had to go back to Privet Drive. Steeling himself, he re-entered his uncle's home. It was three o'clock in the afternoon by now, and the first thing Harry noticed was that Marge had brought her dog, Ripper, who was sleeping by her feet right now.
"So, boy, you finally come back?" Marge asked disdainfully. "I was half-expecting you to have run away again. And, eurgh! What is that stench? Go take a shower, boy, you stink!"
Harry suppressed a grin. Working out does that to you, Marge. But you wouldn't know, you fat tub of lard. His good feelings melted when Marge continued. "Why do you let him do that? He looks and smells like a hobo, that long-haired pillock! I thought St. Brutus's gave haircuts!"
Harry considered shortening his hair in the shower, just to give her a scare, but decided against it. He didn't want to aggravate his relatives. It's going to be a long two weeks.
I hate it when I'm right, Harry thought after the second night of dinner. Marge had, once again, begun pointing out everything she felt was wrong about him, but this time, she had started to hit on his parents. Harry's tightly-clenched fists were trembling, and tattoo-Seth was wriggling, just dying to bite her. Harry wasn't sure he would be able to keep from killing her the next night if she kept it up.
The only thing that made Harry feel any better was the way that Ripper looked at him in fear before backing away, whimpering. Harry felt smug that even Ripper could tell when a more dangerous foe was near.
Harry made sure to spend as much time away from Marge as he could, for the simple reason that killing someone, even someone as detestable as Marge, was considered a crime. But unfortunately, dinner had to be spent together.
As they sat down to dinner, Harry made sure to have perfect manners, so as not to give Marge any more ammunition. He pulled out the chair for Aunt Marge, waited until Aunt Petunia was seated before he sat down, made sure he kept his elbows off the table, provided iced drinks, ate at a moderate pace…
Unfortunately, that only gave Aunt Marge another way to verbally abuse Harry. "I see the pillock has learned some manners," she sneered. "As opposed to his parents, idiots and slobs they were."
Stay calm, Harry thought to himself, using Occlumency techniques.
"Wine, Marge?" Vernon asked.
"Please, thank you." Marge gave Vernon her glass and he poured some wine for the three adults. Marge drank hers greedily. "Ah, thank you, Vernon. Now where was I? Oh, yes, dog breeding. There're a few rules about it, but the most important one is that if there's something wrong with the bitch, there's always going to be something wrong with the pup. Take the Potter boy for example. What self-respecting boy would wear long hair? What's next, wearing dresses, the filthy transvestite!"
I can take this… right now she's just insulting me… Harry thought desperately. "I'm no transvestite, ma'am."
"Yeah, right." Marge took another drink. "Perhaps another glass, Vernon? Ah, thank you. Now, as I was saying, look at the boy's arm, he's got a snake tattoo. A tattoo, for crying out loud! He's probably joined some street gang, selling drugs and taking it up the…"
"Marge!" Petunia protested, covering Dudley's ears.
Harry noticed something odd. His hand and one of his eyebrows were twitching, despite the fact that he was using Occlumency techniques to keep his perception of anger low. That's not good news. For me to be physically reacting to anger when I'm focusing as hard as I can on ignoring it… it's a good thing I'm using Occlumency right now, otherwise she'd probably just be a smear on the wall.
Vernon saw Harry's twitching eyebrow on his otherwise-calm face. "Marge…"
"You never told me what kind of work the brat's parents did," Marge said suddenly, interrupting her brother.
"They were… unemployed," Vernon said after a moment. He saw the twitching of Harry's eyebrow grow in intensity, and one of the veins was starting to throb. I have a feeling this won't turn out well…
"Figures. They must've been slobs, living on the streets, begging for money for booze." Marge turned to Harry, who was mentally reciting his numbers in Gobbledegook to calm down. It wasn't working. "I bet they weren't even actually married, and had this brat out of wedlock, that whore of a mother!"
Harry's control snapped. He slowly stood up, his face contorted into a look of rage as his emerald eyes burned with an inner blaze. "SHUT UP!" Harry screamed, and his magic flared. Suddenly, Marge no longer had a mouth. She looked absolutely horrified. Harry's magic flared again, and now he seemed to have an unearthly aura of power. "You wretched, evil bitch!" Harry hissed. "I am far more powerful than you can even imagine. You can insult me, but when you brought my parents into this, you crossed the line." Marge began floating off her chair, being held in midair by the sheer force of Harry's will. "You get your kicks out of pointing out what you see as deficiencies. Well guess what? You're about to start your life as a mute."
"Now see here!" Vernon roared, getting to his feet. "Set her right!"
"Vernon, do you remember our deal?" Harry asked in tones as cold as a winter night in Antarctica. "You and your family leave me alone, and I don't use magic on your family? You've failed your end of the bargain. Seth, Slow them down. Don't Petrify."
"Understood." Seth emerged from his slumber in Harry's skin and poked his head out from underneath his shirt. His relatives looked absolutely terrified.
"Don't sick him on us, freak!" Petunia shrieked.
Seth opened wide and lunged. First, he bit Vernon, then Petunia and finally Dudley. Harry wrapped Seth loosely around his neck. "I'm leaving," Harry said matter-of-factly. He went upstairs, packed the few things he had taken out of his trunk, and carried it downstairs. Hedwig was out at the moment, but Harry had full confidence that she'd find him sooner or later. His relatives were almost exactly where he had left them; Seth had injected so much venom that they essentially couldn't move. Marge was still floating uselessly.
Harry smirked at them; he had finally punished them all. "Buh-bye!" he said cheerfully, closing the door and carrying his trunk outside. Now where? Dumbledore won't dare try to expel me from Hogwarts. So, if I were the innocent puppet of Dumbledore, what would I do next?
:Had he succeeded in Memory Charming you, you likely would have assumed you'd just been expelled for doing magic outside of Hogwarts.:
True… which would mean that doing a little more magic couldn't hurt. Harry dug out his Nimbus 2000 from his Item Bag. Suddenly, though, he had the eerie feeling of being watched. He let his eyes follow the sense to a small alleyway nearby. Pointing his wand, Harry muttered, "Lumos." The light on his wand almost blinded him after having gotten used to the dark, but it did the job; Harry could now see his watcher: a very, very large shaggy dog with wide, gleaming eyes. Harry began to approach, and his magical sense suddenly told him that all was not as it seemed. Animagus, Harry realized. Let's find out who it is. "Stupefy!"
The dog's eyes widened almost comically, thereby confirming Harry's suspicions. It dodged out of the way and began running down the street. Uh-uh, I don't think so. "Accio!"
The dog suddenly found itself being dragged back, despite running as fast as it could. Mentally keeping the focus strong, Harry decided to reveal this animal for what it really was. "Animagus Reverto!" The dog grunted and leapt to one side, finally shrugging off the Summoning Charm as well. With a frown of concentration that seemed very out of place on a dog, it disappeared with a loud CRACK.
Harry sighed, lowering his wand. "Damn it. Wonder who it was?" One of Voldemort's old followers? Some reporter? Harry had no idea. Definitely unregistered, though.
Harry returned to his trunk and broomstick, and raised his wand to perform a featherweight charm on his trunk to tie it onto his Nimbus 2000…
BAM! A gigantic, purple double-decker bus labeled The Knight Bus just exploded into existence out of nowhere. "Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board, and we can take you anywhere you want to go. My name is Stan Shunpike, and I will be your conductor this evening," Stan said loudly into the night.
Can't go as Harry Potter… Harry quickly changed his image to Neville Longbottom, the first person he could think of. "Hello, I'm Neville. How much for a ride to the Leaky Cauldron?"
A few minutes later, Harry was sipping his hot cocoa, trying to get used to the insane driving and the incessant "BANG" noises of the Knight Bus. His stomach lurched uncomfortably as Harry tried to figure out what to do next. Dumbledore'll find me eventually. The question is, how soon will that be? Harry smirked. Well, I can take advantage of this opportunity to practice my magic.
"Leaky Cauldron!" Stan announced. "Neville, yer stop!"
"Thanks, Stan." Harry smiled at him, getting off and helping Stan lower his trunk and owl cage. Then, the Bus took off. Harry looked around and was slightly surprised to see Cornelius Fudge nearby. Well, I suppose this is as good an opportunity as any to make allies. Harry changed back into normal self and walked over.
"Harry, there you are!" Fudge said in surprise. "Come on, then, we need to have a bit of a chat." He put a hand on Harry's shoulder and quickly steered him inside the pub. Of course, had Harry chosen, he could have flipped him just as he did Lockhart, but Fudge had good reason.
Tom, the wizened, toothless landlord, appeared in the door from behind the bar. "You've got him, Minister! Will you be wanting anything? Beer? Brandy?"
"Some tea wouldn't go unappreciated," Fudge replied. "But perhaps you can lead us to a private parlor?"
Tom merely nodded and beckoned towards the passage that led from the bar. Fudge marched Harry into a small parlor, and Tom snapped his fingers. A fire burst into life in the grate, and he bowed himself out of the room, presumably to make some tea.
Fudge finally let go of Harry's shoulder. "Why don't you sit down, Harry?" Fudge invited, indicating a chair by the fire. Harry did so, and Fudge took off his pinstriped cloak, tossing it aside. He then sat down opposite Harry.
"Hello, Minister," Harry said politely. "How can I help you? I'm sure that a simple case of underage magic doesn't bring the Minister himself from his important duties."
Fudge smiled. Just then, Tom returned with a tray of tea and crumpets. He placed it on the table between Fudge and Harry and left the parlor, closing the door behind him.
"Very astute, Harry. I don't mind telling you that you've had the entire Ministry in a flap, running away from your aunt and uncle's house like that," Fudge said, pouring out some tea for the two of them. He handed Harry a cup.
Harry took it graciously. "Thank you. I assure you I had no intention of throwing the Ministry out of order. I simply… lost my temper with my Muggle relatives and lost control of my magic."
Fudge raised an eyebrow. "The latest reports say that you cast several spells after the Vanishing Charm. By the way, I was under the impression that the Vanishing Charm was fifth year magic, how did you know it?"
"Purely accidental," Harry replied after a sip of tea. "My uncle's sister was insulting my parents, and I just yelled at her to shut up… my magic did the rest. If you don't mind me asking, what spells were recorded?"
"Lumos, which I can understand; it was quite dark outside, and you can never be too careful nowadays," Fudge said genially. "Then a Stunner and a Summoning Charm. The last one, though, boggled me. How did you know Animagus Reverto? That's a spell commonly taught to Aurors!"
Harry smiled grimly. "With my status as the Boy-Who-Lived, I quickly developed a kind of paranoia. I wasn't sure if there were any unregistered Animagi out there, so I took it upon myself to learn the charm. Good thing, too, because before I got on the Knight Bus on the way here, there was a very large black dog Animagus watching me. It seemed too watchful and not very dog-like, so I tried to Stun it to see if it was truly a dog, but it dodged and tried to run. It Apparated away when I almost hit it with Animagus Reverto."
"Indeed?" Fudge asked rhetorically as he poured himself another cup of tea. "I'll have my Aurors keep an eye out for it, then. It must be a fairly recently developed Animagus; the Ministry is usually pretty good about finding unregistered ones."
No, you really aren't, Harry thought amusedly, taking a crumpet. You're talking to one right now. "Thank you, Minister. Is it safe to assume you've already sent the Obliviators to my relatives and sorted things out?"
"Yes," Fudge agreed, pleased. "It was a bit tricky to bring back Miss Marjorie Dursley's mouth, but the Accidental Magic Reversal Department managed in the end. She has already been Obliviated and has no recollection of the incident whatsoever. No harm done."
Harry nodded. "Again, thank you. I was really not looking forward to that conversation."
"No problem, no problem at all," Fudge said, waving off Harry's thanks. "Now, I won't deny that your relatives are extremely angry with you, but they're prepared to take you back next summer as long as you stay at Hogwarts for the Christmas and Easter holidays."
Harry once again nodded. "That's what I thought they'd say. The Dursleys and I… well, we don't exactly get along. It's more of a forced coexistence. So I always stay at Hogwarts for Christmas and Easter. To be honest, I'd much prefer not to return to Privet Drive ever, but since I am still a child in the eyes of the law, my hands are tied, especially since I know the Ministry and Dumbledore have tracking charms on my wand to make sure I don't run away again."
Fudge looked a bit sheepish, and Harry felt his respect for the man rise a couple of notches. At least he's honest about it. "Yes, well… I'm glad to see you understand. In any case, all that's left to decide is where you're going to spend the rest of your vacation. You still have a month and a few days until September first. I suggest you take a room here at the Leaky Cauldron. There are plenty of places in Diagon Alley to explore, though I'll have to ask you not to stray into Muggle London."
"Understandable, considering that you'll probably have a few people watching me. You don't want me to run away, nor do you want me to be found by Sirius Black," Harry analyzed.
Fudge chuckled. "Smart, aren't you? Well, I'll go see if Tom's got a room for you." About a minute later, he returned. "Perfect, room eleven's open. Please return by dark every night."
"Sure thing, Minister." Harry was suddenly struck by a thought. "Um, Minister?"
"I know Black's escaped and all, but are you sending out the dementors to find him?" Harry asked.
Fudge nodded grimly. "I dislike the dementors personally, but even I must admit, they have never yet failed, and they are angrier than I have ever seen them before."
"Then perhaps it would be wise to teach the populace how to repel the effects of dementors as they search?" Harry questioned, a little worried. "I mean, loads of people are going to suffer the effects of, as you called them, angrier-than-ever dementors, while they search for Black. That's going to lower morale."
Fudge looked thoughtful. "That is an idea… that might be wise indeed. Thank you, Harry, for bringing it to my attention. I'll consult my advisors and see if something can be done to that effect."
"If you do, please keep in mind that several Muggleborns – and I include myself, since I'm Muggle-raised – don't really have any parents to protect us from them," Harry said slowly. "I was wondering if we could have a temporary break in the Underage Magic restriction, for just as long as Black is on the run. I mean, I know we won't be much of a fight against them" – except for me, Harry thought – "but every advantage helps, and we'll need to keep ready magically, especially if Black goes and somehow frees more prisoners from Azkaban. I mean no offense to your Aurors, but even they need a couple of minutes to get somewhere, right? And it only takes two words and few seconds to kill someone."
Now, Fudge looked rather taken aback at the comparison. "Well, Harry, you see, I visited Azkaban about a week before Black escaped. Now, you must understand, it doesn't take very long for prisoners to go insane in there, and Black was mad when we took him in. He asked, polite as can be, if he could take my copy of the day's Daily Prophet, and that he missed doing the crossword. Over the next couple of days, as he slept, the guards reported that he was saying something: 'He's at Hogwarts, he's at Hogwarts.'" Fudge looked piercingly at Harry. "Considering that you were the one who defeated his master all those years ago, the Ministry believes that he's after you. Black wouldn't dare return to Azkaban to break others out just yet; he's not fit enough to return, and I highly doubt he'd want to risk the dementors on their home turf."
Harry nodded. That made sense, and Harry wasn't about to argue. "I see. So, basically, you're going to send the dementors to Hogwarts while I'm there to guard against Black entering." Harry took another crumpet. "Have you discovered how he escaped yet?"
Fudge shook his head. "Not yet, but I have full confidence in my Aurors. They'll find out soon enough, and then we'll eliminate that problem. But it had to have been a powerful Dark Magic, and the wards at Hogwarts are very powerful and designed to prevent that, so you'll be safe there."
"Ah." Harry sipped his tea for a moment. Since he did not want to seem very pushy about the Underage Magic – especially since Fudge had kept him from punishment about it – Harry dropped the idea of temporarily canceling it. "This has been a truly enlightening conversation, Minister. Thank you for telling me everything, and for waiting to hear my side of the story before punishing me for my underage magic."
Fudge smiled. "It was no problem, Harry. Now, I'm afraid I have Ministry business to attend to, and I must discuss your ideas with the Wizengamot. You made some good points, and perhaps there will be a few changes soon."
Harry used a brief Legilimency scan and was happily surprised to see that Fudge was being sincere. Perhaps there's a reason he's Minister after all. Harry was willing to give Fudge a second chance, but he wouldn't forget Fudge's attempt to arrest Hagrid without evidence the previous year. "Until next time, Minister."
"Until then, Harry." Fudge shook Harry's hand and left the Leaky Cauldron.
Meanwhile, in an alley not far away from the Leaky Cauldron, a certain dog Animagus was trying to decipher just what had happened. I was watching Harry and he somehow sensed me. Then he cast Lumos and came closer… he smelled curious as he came closer, but when he came within ten meters, he stiffened, and his scent changed to apprehensive and aggressive. He somehow knew I was an Animagus. How?
The dog lay down with a whine, putting its paws over its head. Besides that, there was something about his smell when he got close… something that made the dog side of me shiver and want to run away. And that's never a good thing. Trying to analyze it further, the Animagus decided, the quality was a little similar to Mad-Eye Moody's scent. Paranoia? Experience? But that wouldn't scare a fully grown dog that badly, no it'd be more of a challenge. But what could that scent have meant? The Animagus did something then that he hadn't done in many years; he let his dog instincts do the interpreting.
Danger! Extreme danger! Run away! Very deadly enemy! Strength of others!
The Animagus retook control, not wanting to follow that line of thought. What the hell? What's going on? Harry's only twelve, almost thirteen! How could he be very deadly, extremely dangerous? And what does 'strength of others' mean? The dog's body froze in place, eyes widening. Could it be he's being possessed? Or under the Imperius curse? Don't worry, Harry, I'm out of Azkaban at last, and soon we'll be together, as soon as I can get that rat of a traitor.
With that, Sirius Black got up in his dog form and started trotting down the streets, looking for food.
Harry quickly discovered the truth behind Fudge's words; there was a lot to explore in Diagon Alley. Harry, on his first day, explored almost the entire day, but not simply for the sake of exploring like others boys his age. No, he was making a mental map of the area, just in case of an attack.
Knockturn Alley, however, was off limits. Harry refused to believe that Knockturn Alley was inherently evil, or even completely Dark. Sure, some of the shadier elements of society existed there, but that didn't make it bad. If there was an equivalent on Terra, Harry probably would have made his living there; he was a mercenary after all. Harry didn't venture into Knockturn Alley for two good reasons: if he was seen there, his reputation would – once again – be sundered by some aspiring reporter, and Tom the barkeep somehow knew everything that happened in Diagon Alley in a matter of minutes. Harry suspected Legilimency.
On that first day, Harry decided to visit Gringotts. He walked up the steps easily and saw how the goblin guard grew more and more uncomfortable, as usual. "Peace, friend, I am not here to practice the arts of war," Harry whispered in Gobbledegook to him – it was one of the first phrases he'd dedicated himself to memorizing. He didn't see the goblin's shocked face as Harry continued on.
Harry walked up to the goblin in charge of delegating the cart-drivers to take wizards to their vaults. The goblin looked up. "Name and key?"
"Harry Potter." He passed up the key.
The goblin inspected it. "Everything seems to be in order. Griphook! Take Mr. Potter to his vault!"
Harry clapped his fists together at the goblin. "Thank you, and may your ventures be profitable." The saying was originally part of the ritual for finalizing a business venture, but it had grown to become the standard formal farewell.
The goblin's eyes widened. After a couple of seconds, it returned the gesture and said the accompanying statement: "And may your gold continue to flow."
Harry smiled and left with Griphook to his vault. The goblin Harry had greeted looked around at the other nearby goblins, each of whom had identical expressions of shock. Harry Potter, the one who all goblins could sense held the strength of hundreds, thousands of monsters – including goblins – had greeted them in their own language and as an equal. There was something going on, and the goblin to whom Harry had bade farewell planned to discuss this with Ragnok, the Head Goblin of Gringotts.
"You have learned much, Harry Potter," Griphook commented.
"But there is still so much more," Harry responded.
Griphook gave him a goblin grin. "Your accent needs work, but your grammar is excellent. How long have you been teaching yourself the goblin tongue?"
Harry blinked. Thinking hard, he said slowly, "I have not learned all of Gobbledegook, but I have studied for almost a month." He shook his head, returning to English. "I'm learning much faster than I expected, but even so, this takes time."
Griphook nodded. "It is only to be expected. Magical folk learn languages much faster than Muggles, but everything takes time. You are doing well."
After refilling his Item Bag with one hundred of each coin, Harry went to Flourish and Blott's and bought a couple of new books to study. He decided to wait until near the end of summer to buy some new robes and potion ingredients, for the simple reason that he didn't want to outgrow his new robes immediately, and he wasn't sure how fast he was going to grow. Harry spent a lot of his time after that first day either studying his Gobbledegook, or reading one of his new books. In each of these cases, he was usually in Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor. There, he and the owner, Florean Fortescue himself, would strike up a conversation about a variety of topics, ranging from history to the ethicality of certain laws, such as the anti-werewolf legislation.
Two weeks after first arriving, Harry stopped by the Quidditch shop and noticed a crowd. Curious, Harry managed to get midway through the crowd and saw what they were ogling at – a broomstick. But not just any broomstick, it was the brand new, fresh on the market, Firebolt.
Oh, it was a thing of beauty. Each birch twig was perfectly straightened and kept at exactly the right length, the shaft's wood (ash) was polished to shine, and Harry could sense the highly refined magic in it interacting without interfering with each other. Harry read the sign next to the broom. It can accelerate to 150 miles an hour in ten seconds? Damn, that's much faster than my Nimbus 2000 at 90 miles an hour in fifteen!
Harry wouldn't have been surprised if a spotlight shone from the heavens on that broomstick at that point, and wasn't at all surprised when he heard that the Irish International Quidditch team was ordering them.
Price on request? Harry decided that it wasn't worth it; he still had to pay for the remainder of his education at Hogwarts, and his current Nimbus 2000 was perfectly fine. There was no point in buying a better broom when the one he had did the job quite nicely.
Not long afterwards was Harry's birthday, and he was quite pleased to receive several presents. Hermione sent him some sugarless sweets – her parents were dentists – and Theo sent some of Honeyduke's finest chocolate – always a good buy, and tasted absolutely glorious when Harry allowed himself to eat some. Daphne got him a broomstick servicing kit, and Blaise's present was a Foe Glass. "The shadows there will become clear when you're in danger, and then you'll see who's after you," the note had said.
To Harry's surprise, he had also received two other presents. Ron Weasley had sent him a Sneakoscope. "I figure you need it more than I do. Besides, it always lights up and spins whenever the twins are up to a prank, and I still can't avoid them. You could probably use it better." Harry thought that this was an incredibly thoughtful gift for the insensitive boy, but perhaps he'd changed a bit. The other gift was from Ginny Weasley, a green home-made bracelet. Her note called it a "thank you" for helping her to adapt to Slytherin house and for saving her from the Chamber of Secrets. Harry idly wondered if she still harbored a crush for him.
Hagrid had also sent a gift, though if Harry didn't know any better, he'd say that the box it was in was growling. Deciding caution was best, Harry opened the note first.
Happy Birthday! This may come in handy for yeh at Hogwarts this year. Ain't sayin' no more just yet. I'll see yeh at Hogwarts.
Harry bit his lip. Something that may come in handy at Hogwarts? That could be anything!
:Only one way to find out what it is.:
Yeah. Harry reached for the box and slowly undid the wrapping paper. He froze when he heard the item within snap loudly, as if it had jaws. Harry's eyes narrowed; he knew that Hagrid would never send him anything dangerous on purpose, but then, Hagrid's definition of dangerous was a little different from his own.
Harry inspected the box. There were no air holes, and it was locked tight. Harry cocked his head in puzzlement. Anything living should have already suffocated by the time this reached me, but whatever is in here is definitely not dead. He took a deep breath and ripped open the box, tipping it onto its side.
Harry was a little surprised to see a book fall out. He took in the appearance of the book at a glance. It had a handsome green cover with the golden title The Monster Book of Monsters, and the binding looked well-made. Just then, the book flipped onto its edge and began moving like a crab along the floor.
Harry reached down to pick it up, but the book whirled and snapped shut on his hand. Harry smirked. That stung, but it'll take a lot more than that to hurt me. Harry took his other hand and grabbed the book by its spine, holding it still, though it was struggling in his hands. Like a monster, eh? Well, let's see if I can calm it down. Harry began whistling a tune, but the book kept trying to escape. OK, not music. How about stroking it? Harry ran a few of his fingers down the spine of the book, and the monstrous book shuddered before falling limp. Harry grinned. Ha-ha! Gotcha! Harry set it aside for the time being; he had other things to do.
The notes from the Weasleys had also told Harry that they were in Egypt to visit their brother Bill, having won the Ministry's lottery. They were saving some of the money, though, for emergency purposes. Harry smiled at that; it was about time that the Weasleys had some luck. Although, the trip to Egypt seemed a bit foolish; wouldn't it have been wiser to invest the money? Bill, as a curse-breaker, made a little more than a decent amount of money; he also received a portion of whatever treasure he found. Surely he would be able to visit occasionally?
To tell the truth, Harry was very interested in the curse-breaking profession. The idea of traveling and seeing new lands while living the exciting life of breaking curses and powerful wards where one false step could get you killed… Harry liked the prospect, especially since he wouldn't always be flying solo.
His other profession as SeeD on Terra was nice, but it got a bit lonely traveling the plains alone. To be honest, he had first decided to become SeeD only because he wanted to be strong enough to protect his friends, and he was doing that quite well, despite the fact that he had to hide his true power at present.
Speaking of SeeD, Harry hadn't had the opportunity to see Squall, Quistis and Zell in their graduation test. Had they passed? Harry didn't know, but he also didn't know when he'd next be able to check.
In mid-August, Hogwarts students started pouring in to by their supplies, so Harry decided the time was right to buy his own, especially since he'd gotten his booklist only a few days prior. He stopped by the Apothecary and replenished his store of potions ingredients, and it appeared he was quite right to wait to buy new robes – he had grown quite a bit over the summer, now reaching five feet. He made sure that he had a little room to grow into his new robes, as he didn't want to repeat the process next year.
Finally, Harry went to buy his schoolbooks, including those for his two new subjects: Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. He took a look at his booklist for the first time since he'd gotten it. Odd. I don't remember signing up for Care of Magical Creatures… and I know I didn't sign up for Divination. There's Arithmancy, but where's Ancient Runes? What the hell? He was very surprised at the sight of a cage full of books he recognized as copies of The Monster Book of Monsters. As he entered, the manager came hurrying towards him.
"Hogwarts?" he asked abruptly. "Come to get your new books?"
Harry nodded. "But I – "
"Get out of the way," the manager interrupted impatiently, pulling on a pair of very thick gloves and picking up a large, knobbly walking stick.
"I already have one of those," Harry said in an irritated tone, not liking how the manager had interrupted him.
The manager's look changed to one of enormous relief. "Have you? Thank heavens for that! I've been bitten five times already this morning…" A loud ripping noise was heard then as two of the Monster Books had seized a third and were pulling it apart. "Stop it, stop it!" cried the manager, poking the walking stick through the bars and knocking the books apart. "I'm never stocking them again, never! I thought we'd seen the worst when we bought two hundred copies of the Invisible Book of Invisibility – cost a fortune, and we never found them…"
"You know, there's a way to calm them down, easy," Harry said casually.
The manager looked at Harry as if he were a godsend. "How? How?"
Harry decided to take pity on the poor manager. He looked frazzled enough, and Harry felt like doing him a favor. He walked over to the cage, and his arm lashed out like a snake, grabbing one of the copies and pulling it through the cage. He ran one finger down its spine and the book shuddered, falling limp like his own copy. "Stroke their spines. They're basically bloodthirsty animals, right? Well, petting is one of the universal signs of affection, and it usually calms down an animal. I did it on my copy and it has behaved very well."
The manager looked awestruck. "Tell you what, I'll give you the rest of your booklist for free if you help me with the rest of these."
Harry grinned. "Deal."
About an hour later, Harry was a very happy customer. The Monster Books were behaving quietly now and the manager had even thrown in the books for Ancient Runes in addition to Harry's booklist. "Do you know why I'm taking Care of Magical Creatures and Divination?" Harry asked. "I know I didn't sign up for them."
"Well, Care of Magical Creatures is required now for third years," the manager explained. "I'm not sure about Divination, though. Did your letter say anything about it?"
Harry blinked. He hadn't thought it necessary to read through the letter, as all he needed was his booklist. "Um, let me find out. I forgot about that while I was on my way here." He dug the letter from Hogwarts from his pocket, unfolded it and began to read.
Welcome back for your third year of Hogwarts. Attached is your booklist. Please note that Care of Magical Creatures is now a required course for all new third years. Remember that term begins on September 1.
"Nope, nothing," Harry said confusedly. "I'll just have to send Headmaster Dumbledore a letter." So, that night, Harry drafted a letter and sent it to the Headmaster with Hedwig.
Three days later, Harry received a letter back.
I know you expressed a wish to attend Ancient Runes, but it is necessary for you to attend Divination. Divination has special regard to your life, and it is related to that scar of yours and why you keep on meeting with incarnations of Voldemort. Attending Divination will help you, while Ancient Runes will not. I am only looking out for your own good, Harry.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
"Why that conniving old coot!" Harry growled angrily. He's talking about that bloody prophecy… if only I knew what the actual words were, but Dumbledore did tell me part of it. 'One must die by the other's hand, for neither can live while the other survives.' That means that I'm destined to either kill Voldemort or die trying. Harry snorted. Just how is Divination going to help me with that? I don't want to guess at the future.
:If I recall correctly, Hermione is taking all of the possible electives,: Quetz pointed out. :Is it not possible for you to do the same?:
Harry's anger immediately dissipated into a thoughtful look. You've got a point. Alright, let's try it. But first, I'm going to send letters to my friends, see what they think. An hour later, he sent Hedwig out.
Two days later, he received four letters. He opened the one from Hermione first.
DUMBLEDORE DID WHAT? I can't believe he would go so far! For a Headmaster to purposely disregard the student's expressed wishes for their OWL electives without the parent's explicit consent is illegal, especially since doing so almost ruins their chances of getting into the job of their choice!
But Harry, keep in mind that even if we don't take the classes, we can still elect to take the OWL exams for those classes. It will simply require independent study. As I'm taking Ancient Runes myself, and so is Blaise if I recall correctly, the two of us can help you learn if you need us to.
About my taking all the classes, I'm afraid I've been bound to secrecy by McGonagall, and she, at least, is trustworthy. Sorry I can't help that way, but you might be able to convince her to do what I'm doing. Good luck.
Harry nodded absently as he read the letter. He had been considering doing independent study for Ancient Runes, but he knew that a class would be better. He honestly hadn't expected Hermione to tell him how she was taking all of her classes, but it was worth a shot. He moved on to Daphne's letter.
I double-checked with my Uncle – the Obliviator I told you about – and he says that you have the grounds to sue Dumbledore, but Dumbledore has too many connections right now, and is too popular at the moment for it to do anything but let Dumbledore know that you aren't going to take his orders lying down.
This puts you in a bad situation, as being unable to take Ancient Runes could mean that you won't be able to go into the job of your choice. I think you should just remember this information and bring it up when we finally do bring him to court, so we can put the bastard down once and for all, destroy him in one fell swoop.
Oh, and since I had chosen Care of Magical Creatures as one of my two electives, I had to pick out another one. I chose Divination. Until the Hogwarts Express,
Harry once again nodded, this time in consideration of the new information. Daphne was right; he couldn't do anything just yet. He pulled out Theo's letter.
You can't take Ancient Runes? That sucks! At least you'll share Divination with me, though. Since Care of Magical Creatures became a required class, I had to pick out Arithmancy, Ancient Runes or Muggle Studies. I chose Arithmancy, so we'll get to share that one too.
I'm pretty sure Daphne's already told you all the legal mumbo-jumbo, so no point in repeating her! Hope to see you in Diagon Alley, but if not, see ya on the Hogwarts Express!
Harry smiled at that, glad to see that Theo was his usual self. Finally, he pulled out Blaise's letter.
I am saddened to hear that you cannot take Ancient Runes due to the Headmaster's interference, but have you thought that perhaps there is something we have overlooked? The secret to Voldemort's immortality is still unknown to us, but perhaps Divination will help to determine it. Despite the fact that most Seers are frauds, there is the occasional wizard (usually a witch) with a powerful talent for it.
I do suggest you try, however, to take Ancient Runes one way or another; when Voldemort is finally finished for good, you will need a job, and Ancient Runes opens a few avenues.
Until next we meet,
Harry set the letter down thoughtfully. As expected, Blaise had put another spin on the situation, one that Harry hadn't considered prior to reading the letter. If Harry did turn out to have talent as a Seer, then that may help him in finishing Voldemort for good, which would then get Dumbledore off his back.
However, in the much more likely situation of being useless as a Seer, Harry would be taking a worse-than-useless class. Harry sighed. I almost wish I wasn't the one tied to Voldemort through this damn scar. He rubbed it absently as he thought. Then I never would have needed to leave Terra. Things were simpler there. Kill a monster here, assassinate some crime lord there, keep an eye on the Sorceresses… I would have retired eventually, settled down, maybe had a kid or two. Who knows, maybe I could have been the Headmaster of Balamb Garden.
:Dwelling on what might have been will do you no good, Harry,: Quetz quietly reminded him. :Instead, deal with the present and plan for your future, for life goes on, regardless of our wishes.:
Harry nodded. Time to write a letter to the Headmaster, then. Let's see if I can do whatever Hermione's doing.
Dumbledore read Harry's latest letter curiously. "Harry really wants to take Ancient Runes," he murmured aloud. "If it were anyone else, I would allow them to transfer, as classes have not even started. Harry, however, may have some talent in Divination, and his scar connection may prove useful in augmenting whatever abilities he may have to divine Tom's plans, or even the locations of his Horcruxes." Despite his knowledge of the Horcruxes, Dumbledore only knew of a select few. The Gaunt Family Ring, passed down the line of Slytherin, was located in the ruins of the Gaunt mansion, Dumbledore knew. Tom's diary had already been destroyed thanks to Harry. Hufflepuff's cup and Slytherin's locket, Dumbledore knew existed, but not where. There were two missing, and lastly Voldemort himself contained the seventh part of his soul.
Dumbledore suspected that one of the missing Horcruxes was Harry's scar, but he was uncertain. There had been no attempts to place a Horcrux within another living being before, and Dumbledore honestly had no idea if the scar was a Horcrux or simply the remnant of the Killing Curse cast on that fateful Halloween night so long ago.
There was a spell to determine if an inanimate item had a soul inside it, which worked nicely for verifying a Horcrux, but it wasn't designed for living beings. It would detect a soul, true, but it wouldn't be able to tell if there was extra, or more than one soul. That was why Dumbledore allowed Harry to take Arithmancy; he would surely be suspicious of his own scar with the proper words, and would then do all of Dumbledore's work for him in designing the spell in the Spell Design NEWT level course.
However, Dumbledore also needed Harry to grow closer to Hagrid, as the half-giant had a dependence on Dumbledore that would ultimately be passed on to Harry. Thus, Harry needed to take Care of Magical Creatures to see Hagrid more and more often. Since students were supposed to only take two of the OWL classes – with a few exceptions – this meant that one of the classes needed to be changed to be required. Care of Magical Creatures was the easiest to convert, as most of the students took it anyway.
Now, however, Harry had an intriguing proposition. He was asking to be allowed to use the method Hermione Granger was using to take her extra classes. Dumbledore smirked. No, he needs to see just how badly using a Time-Turner can affect the body and mind without experiencing it himself. Not only does it age your body faster than normal, but both mind and body become stressed without the proper sleep and break from work. Miss Granger, as his bookworm friend, will turn him against using a Time-Turner while not misusing it herself. After all, if Harry were to accidentally create a paradox of time… I'd rather not contemplate the possibilities.
Dumbledore dipped a very expensive phoenix-feather quill into his pot of ink and began to write his reply.
Harry was unsurprised to see Dumbledore's negative response. Independent Study it is, then, he decided. But first, I have to get that Patronus Charm down. Quetz, how's the magic?
:I am almost finished. You should have full control over your magic by the time you get on the train, though…: Quetz hesitated.
What is it?
:You're going to receive the other seventy percent of your magic all at once, and that could overwhelm your body, the results of which could be anything from simply being sore for a couple of days to lying in a coma for a week.:
Knowing my luck, it'll probably be the latter… what if I was to expend large quantities of magic as the floodgate opens?
:I see what you're getting at. That might work.:
Then that's the plan, and I'm sticking to it. Don't destroy the block until I say, ok?
Three days before Hogwarts Express was due to leave, Harry was studying his Ancient Runes at Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor when he heard a familiar voice. "Harry!"
Harry turned around and saw Hermione rushing towards him. He smiled. "How ya doing, Hermione?"
Hermione beamed. "I'm doing great! Thanks again for arranging the goblins to set up those wards!"
Harry shrugged. "No problem. Looking forward to Hogwarts?"
"Of course! You do have all your homework done, right?"
Harry scoffed. "I got that finished in the first week back! Who do you take me for, Ron Weasley?" They shared a laugh at that. "So, you keep up your training?"
Hermione frowned. "I've kept in shape, but I haven't been able to practice using my whip. I think I'm a bit rusty."
Harry nodded. "Understandable. Don't worry, we'll fix that while we're at Hogwarts this year." He smiled grimly. "Who knows, maybe we'll have a chance to practice on something live by the end of the year."
Hermione frowned. Does he mean Sirius Black, or does he mean taking us to Terra and having us face the monsters there? Deciding she didn't want to know, Hermione dropped it. "Have you seen the others, yet?"
Just as Harry shook his head in response, his keen hearing picked up Theo's voice. "Daphne," Theo was whining, "are you sure he's not in the Leaky Cauldron?"
"Tom said he wasn't, so he wasn't," Daphne said shortly.
Harry grinned. "Speak of the devil," he muttered to Hermione. "Theo! Daphne! Over here!"
Two heads twisted to look at him before running over. "Blaise'll be along in a few minutes," Theo informed Harry, and sure enough, Blaise appeared a minute later, carrying a bag of books. In a matter of minutes, they were chatting naturally over ice cream sundaes, courtesy of Fortescue.
Harry got everyone up to date about his Ancient Runes situation, and Blaise observed something Harry hadn't. "If I'm not mistaken, I believe we all share all of the core classes, Care of Magical Creatures, Divination and Arithmancy, correct?"
Hermione nodded. "The only ones we don't share are my Muggle Studies, and Ancient Runes with just you and me."
"Won't the other houses find themselves in similar situations?" Blaise asked. "By taking away one of the options and making it mandatory, Dumbledore has effectively reduced the number of class combinations possible. Before, when we had five classes to choose from, and we needed two, there were ten possible ways to combine them. Now that we have only four, there are six ways. Do you all understand me so far?" Everyone nodded. "Good. That means that before, for every six students that would originally be taking the class, now there will be ten. This situation results in larger classes, which further increases the possibility of interaction between the Houses."
"You lost me," Theo said confusedly. Then, after a moment, his eyes widened. "Never mind, I get it." Harry understood; Cerberus, Theo's Guardian Force, had explained what Blaise meant.
Daphne's eyes narrowed. "But doesn't that also mean that since there'll be more of each House, they'll just stick together?"
"You mean, all the Gryffindors will group together, all the Hufflepuffs will too, and so on?" Hermione asked. Daphne nodded.
"You have a point," Blaise conceded. "Smaller classes mean more personal interactions outside of one's House, but larger classes mean the Houses would have to interact as entities."
"OK, so what you're saying is while smaller classes force the students to talk to and work with students from other Houses, the larger classes we're going to have will make it so the people not only represent themselves, but their House, in front of the school body," Harry summarized.
Theo looked at Blaise and pointed at Harry. "See, why can't you talk like that? I understood him much better than what you were saying!"
Blaise gave a ghost of a smirk. "Because it's so entertaining to see your expressed stupefaction when I communicate and you fail to comprehend." Theo blinked, confused. Seeing this, the rest of his friends shared a laugh. Theo mock-scowled, but knew it was all in good fun.
They spent another couple of hours together, and at the end, Hermione had opted to go buy a pet, and chose what looked like a baby tiger but was in actuality a fully-grown tomcat named Crookshanks.
As it happened, Ron Weasley was buying some rat tonic for his rat at the same time, and when Harry approached, his Animagus sense tingled. He stiffened. Animagus in the area. Nearby. Where? Harry looked around in a casual manner, but was scanning the nearby crowd for any known Animagi. No one I recognize. Harry's eyes narrowed. Unregistered. He focused hard on the direction, and saw Ron talking to the pet shop owner. No fucking way is he an Animagus. I would've known from the time we spent together at Hogwarts.
:What animal is it?:
Harry frowned. Small, furry, fearful. My gut says mouse or rat. Harry glanced at the pet shop owner again, who was showing off several young white rats. Could it be one of them?
"Harry, is something wrong?" Hermione asked in a concerned voice.
A brief look at his friends showed that they were all looking at him confusedly. Harry nodded curtly. "I'll tell you later," he murmured in a low voice. Ron left shortly afterwards.
"Hey Harry. Sorry, no time to talk right now. See you on the train?" Ron greeted.
Harry nodded. "Later, Ron." As Ron left, so did Harry's perception of the Animagus. That does it. After Hermione bought Crookshanks, Harry guided them all to a safe corner.
"Either Ron or his rat is an Animagus," Harry informed them.
"The rat," his four friends stated together.
Harry nodded grimly. "That was my thought as well. The question is, who is he really? I remember Ron telling me about Scabbers, and how he was owned by Percy before he got him. He's been with the Weasleys for years."
"Interesting, an Animagus who has stayed in his form for years on end, living as a pet," Blaise mused. "Who would degrade themselves to such a thing, and why?"
No one knew, but Harry had a feeling that the rat Animagus was going to play a large role in his life. In what way, Harry had no idea, but he wasn't willing to risk it being bad. The next time he had the opportunity, he was going to Stun the rat and force it to reveal its true form.
Now, the reason why Harry didn't sense Peter earlier is because he's been fine-tuning his magic, and he simply hadn't developed his Animagus sense to that point yet. Anyway, now Harry is aware of not one, but two unregistered Animagi outside of himself.
Poor Ron! No one even considered the possibility that he was an Animagus. evil grin Sorry, I don't much like Ron yet. He WILL get better, I promise.
Read and Review, please!